The #surveillance tape on the bus goes round and round, round and round...

posted Jan 4, 2013, 3:22 AM by Peter Joseph Moons
"BIG BROTHER’S LISTENING Government officials installing audio surveillance systems on public buses" - thedaily.com


Comments by Peter Joseph Moons

Many city transit and school bus systems already employ recording cameras but the newest application of surveillance technology will be pairing video AND audio recordings for real-time analysis.  The excellent article linked above describes how cities in the US are planning to implement video and audio surveillance on their transit systems. Full-time audio and video recording will provide tremendous benefits to governments: the ability to analyze recordings post-incident, track a known target, and understand the ridership of an area or a bus route at definite time or time period. Likewise, knowing exactly who gets on a bus by name, correlated with all other known data collected on citizens including financial history, credit card usage, government resources used, home location, employment history, etc, would allow the bus systems to catalog riders and classify ridership on specific routes on a spectrum of safe-to-dangerous. With facial recognition technology deployed in public places, government offices, and private enterprises, the ability to track a person throughout the day will increase: being on a bus will just become another data point to capture while tracking a person.  That scenario is not far off: Denizens of London, for example, are spotted 300 times daily on CCTVs.  The technological issue on buses is merely solving connectivity, bandwidth capacity, data storage, and linkage into other surveillance systems.

Some of the locations where the technology is or will be online are: Eugene, OR, Traverse City, MI, Columbus, OH, Hartford, CT; Athens, GA, Baltimore, MD, and San Francisco, CA.


Realistically, there will be little countermeasure against face recognition technology save not going on the transit system.  Reference audio recording: a rider could either stay silent or write notes to fellow bus riders.  Once a rider enters the bus, either public or school bus, their right to privacy is effectively surrendered, as is already established, so any recordings will likely not need additional judicial review.

While this surveillance technology will enhance the ability of government agencies and law enforcement to track known targets or "scanning" a crowd looking for "pre-crime" indicators, there is the potential for misuse in terms of mere "profiling" for people who of a certain demographic. 

Current Control Grade: 8. Freedom Grade: 2.
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